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Nation & World

T.I. Is Dreaming Big For Atlanta's Future

"As long as I'm investing my time, effort, energy and attention to these things, I think there's no question that I can make them better," T.I. says.
"As long as I'm investing my time, effort, energy and attention to these things, I think there's no question that I can make them better," T.I. says.

At the beginning of his music career, rapper T.I. crowned himself the King of the South and has stuck with the title for almost two decades since. Now, he's focused on making his theoretical kingdom better, dreaming big about the changes he wants to see in his hometown of Atlanta.

The " Whatever You Like" rapper has won three Grammys, founded a record label, started several clothing brands, invested heavily in real estate in his former neighborhood and is trying to pass on some of his hard earned lessons about building a career and a fortune on a new reality show called The Grand Hustle .

He wants to tackle big issues — the same massive ones on the minds of politicians and community leaders across the nation; affordable housing, employment opportunities and better education. He worries specifically about the consequences of long-standing citizens being pushed out of the city by rising housing costs. "The people who work in the city, live in the city and exist there, they give it the culture that gives it the energy that attracts all of the opportunities that have been able to grace our great city," T.I. says.

T.I. was born in Atlanta in 1980 and grew up dealing drugs on the west side, but kept a vision of bettering Atlanta in his head.

"A lot of the people around me, even to this day that were around me then, they say, 'Man, you always saw it,'" he says. "If I didn't believe, if I couldn't envision it, then I don't believe that the stars and the moon would have ever aligned the way they have."

Through his music career, T.I. has remained active in community charity efforts. In January he was appointed to Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' transition team, which advised her primarily during the first 100 days in office.

From reality TV to government appointments, T.I. will pursue any and every channel possible to overcome the seemingly insurmountable issues in his hometown. "As long as I'm investing my time, effort, energy and attention to these things, I think there's no question that I can make them better," T.I. says. "And that's with anybody, not just me."

Web intern Emily Abshire contributed to this story. Listen to the entire interview at the audio link.

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